PROVINCETOWN – One passer-by called it “a real, live shipwreck” but the town called it, “litter.” The Artemis, the ill-fated fishing boat, is gone off its precarious perch, resting on the Provincetown breakwater, where it had been lodged since a fierce March storm threw it across the harbor. When the boat’s owner did not move the boat as requested, the town finally stepped in this week and moved it back to the pier where it will either be claimed or cut up for scrap.
But in the several months that it sat on the breakwater, it became something of a tourist attraction, oddly picturesque in its decrepitude. In this town of artists and poets, it was doubtless the subject of countless photos and reveries.
The breakwater, the two-mile bridge of boulders stretching from Provincetown’s west end to Long Point, seemed more popular than ever, as people trudged out over the giant rocks, wanting a closer look at the wreck.
While stuck on the breakwater, the Artemis also served perhaps as a metaphor for Provincetown’s once grand fishing industry. Now there are far fewer boats and far fewer fishing families who call the Cape tip home, compared to 100 years ago when the town was known for its impressive fleet, manned by men of Portuguese descent who knew their way around the shifting shoals of the Outer Cape. The town’s Portugese fishing heritage is still celebrated annually at the Portuguese Festival, which took place just two weeks ago.
And so Artemis, named for the goddess of the hunt, of wild animals and wilderness, is headed for the scrap heap. But her downfall, for all to see, was strangely beautiful while it lasted.
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